Indians’ starting pitcher Trevor Bauer is taking baby steps with each start at the major league level.
Last season, the 22-year old Bauer was rushed to the big leagues by Arizona, barely a year removed from the 2011 MLB Draft. He made just four starts and went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA before he was sidelined for the year with a groin issue.
After a three-team, nine-player trade brought the prized arm of Bauer to the Indians, he impressed the Indians with a solid spring training, since pitching well in spot starts.
In three starts for the Indians this season, Bauer is 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA. He has pitched the same amount of innings with the Indians (16.1) as he did last year with the Diamondbacks, but has a much lower ERA.
The key for Bauer – baby steps. He struggled with command in his first outing in Tampa, walking the first four batters of the game and seven overall in five innings. Still, he limited Tampa to three runs on two hits.
Bauer then pitched five shutout innings against the Phillies on May 1st. The walk bug got him again, but he only allowed one hit. On Monday, he had his best start – pitching into the seventh inning and allowing two earned runs on six hits with two walks.
There is a still a lot Bauer has to learn before he can be relied upon every fifth day. Young and maturing, he needs more experience at the minor league level, but he is quickly getting ready to come up to the big leagues for good.
The pedigree and talent is there for Bauer to be an ace, or a solid number two starter. He has a deep arsenal of pitches – a low-to-mid 90s four-seam fastball, a devastating 12-6 curveball, and a slider that is tough on lefties. He also mixes in different variations, but the fastball-curveball-slider trio is his bread and butter.
Bauer is in tune to his delivery and how to maximize it. He is a religious follower of biomechanics and constantly studies it.
But for as much as Bauer studies his mechanics, his delivery is unorthodox and he has problems commanding his fastball. He works it too much up in the zone; something he generally prefers, but Indians coaches have worked with him to get his fastball down in the zone.
Fastball command will determine how successful of a pitcher Bauer will be. He has the toughness to be a frontline pitcher. His stuff is electric and he has several pitches, but until he consistently commands his fastball, his performances will be erratic.
If command ever falls in line, it will no longer be baby steps, but a giant leap forward. The Indians will then have a fixture at the front end of their rotation for at least the next five years, and one of the best young starting pitchers in all of baseball.